While some motivational speakers look like they’re born to do it, others develop public speaking as a skill. This involves training by joining public speaking courses such as Toastmasters. Others join classes that help them overcome stage fright. Improvisation classes are often overlooked as it seems to serve a purpose that leans more towards comedy. However, improv is actually a very useful skill to have if you want to be a public speaker.
Ice-Breakers and Comedic Value
You might find yourself in a situation where diving straight into your speech can catch the audience off-guard. If you haven’t prepared an ice-breaker, a little training in improv should help as you can make up a few lines off the top of your head. A humorous few lines should be better than going “So… I’m here to talk about… ” which not only will make you sound awkward but will deal a hard blow to your confidence as well.
Being Creative Off the Script
Improv is one of the secret weapons of actors and comedians. There have been a lot of cases where actors forget their lines, improvise without breaking character, and the scene is retained in the final edit. When you forget a certain line of your speech and you have no notes to fall back on, improvising is a good way to bounce back. With improv, you can say something really creative that still falls in line with your original message.
No doubt you have planned your speech very well. You have certain lines that you feel you need to say verbatim. There are notes that won’t make you forget what points you need to elaborate. This can still make you sound robotic to your audience. Sprinkling some improvised lines throughout your speech can make you sound like you’re really talking to them and not just saying what you have memorized.
Comedians often use improvising skills to segue random scenarios yet end in a sensible punch line. You may find yourself explaining a point too much that your speech starts to wander off. With improv skills, you can find a way to bring your speech back on topic without needing your notes. If you’re really good at it, your audience even won’t notice you getting out of topic.
Learning improv for public speaking doesn’t mean you should improvise a lot in your speeches. Improv simply teaches you various subtle skills that will help you deliver your speeches better. While it’s not a public speaker’s skill, it’s a valuable addition to your repertoire.
One of the best ways to catch the audience’s attention is by telling a joke. Unless you’re already a very popular speaker, making your audience laugh is one way to make them comfortable.